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5 Major Conference Teams Win Championships to Earn Coveted Spots in the BCS Bowl Games

Five of the nation’s top major conference teams won titles in Week 14 of College Football to earn coveted berths in BCS bowl games. The best of the best included Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati, Oregon and Georgia Tech.

In the nation’s most important game before the bowl season, Alabama’s Crimson Tide (13-0) avenged their loss last year to the Florida Gators (12-1) by easily managing Florida, 32 -13, winning the SEC Championship and the right to compete for the National Championship.

The Gators, who won the national title last year, must have been embarrassed since entering the showdown leading the nation in defense (9.83 ppg) and total defense (233.08 ypg). Alabama, which had the 2nd-best scoring defense in the nation (10.83 ppg) and 3rd-best total defense (233.92 ypg), proved superior.

Florida just couldn’t handle Tide star running back Mark Ingram, who rushed for 113 yards and 3 touchdowns. Alabama’s Greg McElroy threw for 239 yards and a touchdown to win the Most Valuable Player award.

Alabama last won a national championship in 1992. Florida won national titles in 2006 and 2008 and was trying to win 3 titles in 4 years.

Texas (13-0) needed a 46-yard field goal from Hunter Lawrence as time expired to roll back a monster defensive effort from Nebraska (9-4) and win the Big 12 championship, 13-12, and the right to play Alabama for the national title on January 7.

The solid defense of the Cornhuskers imposed itself by almost succeeding in a huge upset. Few fans realized how good the Husker defense was. Nebraska finished 3rd in the nation in point defense (11.08 ppg) and 11th in total defense (291.42 ypg), and believe me, Texas found out why.

Longhorn QB Colt McCoy nearly lost the game for Texas by rolling for a pass in the final moments and holding the ball too long before throwing it away. Officials ruled the ball hit the ground out of bounds with 1 second left on the clock, allowing Lawrence to land his dramatic, game-winning field goal. Nebraska’s defense has fired McCoy 9 times, which doesn’t say a lot about the protection of the Longhorns offensive line.

Texas was denied a shot at last year’s national title game by Oklahoma, even though the Longhorns beat the Sooners in the regular season. Many fans thought Texas should have faced Florida for the title last year; now they will.

The Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0), down 21 points, needed Tony Pike’s 29-yard pass to Armon Binns with 33 seconds left to end their narrow 45-44 win over Pittsburgh (9-3) to win the Big East Championship, and the right to face Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

Pittsburgh’s Dion Lewis rushed for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the Panthers led Cincinnati 31-10 earlier in the game, but that wasn’t enough to stop the nation’s 5th best offense. Cincinnati was averaging more than 39 points per game heading into the contest, and coach Brian Kelly’s quick offense exposed Pittsburgh’s lack of defense.

Kelly, who went 10-3 in Cincinnati his freshman year, went 11-3 last year and is now 12-0 heading into the Sugar Bowl. He has just been hired by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who canned Charlie Weis after 5 years and a 35-27 record.

In the greatest game in Oregon football history, Oregon (10-2) beat Oregon State (8-4), 37-33, when running back Duck LaMichael James ran for 52 yards to give Oregon a 34-33 lead with 1:20 left in the 3rd quarter. James would finish with 166 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.

The stakes were high as this year’s Civil War was a win-win battle with the Pac-10 Championship and the right to face Ohio State (10-2) in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State had won the Big Ten championship earlier by defeating Iowa.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (11-2) needed Jonathan Dwyer’s 15-yard run with 1:20 remaining to pull back Clemson (8-5), 39-34, to win the Atlantic Coast Championship and a place in the Orange Bowl against Iowa (10-2).

Houston’s luck ran out against East Carolina (9-4) as the Pirates beat the Cougars 38-32 to win the American Conference Welterweight title. East Carolina’s title was its second in a row and proved once again that defense, not offense, most often wins championships.

Houston has the most scoring offense in the nation (44+ points per game), but its nasty defense is ranked 110th among 120 major college teams. East Carolina’s scoring defense is ranked 31st (21+ ppg) and its total defense is ranked 68th; at least the Panthers had a defense and used it to win another C-USA title.

BCS Game 5 – the Fiesta Bowl – will feature two undefeated mid-major teams – Mountain West Conference champion Texas Christian (12-0) and Western champion Boise State (13-0) Athletic Conference. The match-up marks the first time that two teams without automatic offers from the 6 major conferences have met in a coveted BCS match.

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

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